External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Arnica Joint Compress

Kind of substance

Arnica essence

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Acute joint inflammation (see example case)


1 tbsp. arnica essence in 250 ml of ca. 40° (104°F) warm water as a wrung-out compress, wrapped around the affected joint together with a terrycloth hand towel to protect from moisture (gauze diaper, cotton cloth or the like). The pack should not be too tight, so that moisture can condense. Duration: ½ hour per application, then renew as needed.

Well-proven in many patients
Can be applied several times a day
Onset of effect
Immediate pain alleviation
Length of therapy
For the duration of the acute inflammation
Other recommended therapies
The cooling, detumescent and pain alleviating effect can be strengthened by spreading 1 tablespoon of arnica essence onto a pack of ca. 300 g of farmer's cheese (quark) and placing it on the affected joint. The farmer's cheese should first be warmed up to room temperature, after being taken out of the refrigerator. Remove the pack when the farmer's cheese begins to dry out (after ca. 1–2 hours).
See also Farmer's cheese-arnica knee-compress
Exercise caution in cases of sensitivity to composites and when there is a known arnica allergy

Case example

A 59-year-old female patient with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis developed acute complaints in her right knee. The joint was clearly swollen, overheated and very painful; it was first treated externally with cooling elements. A stronger and longer-lasting analgesic and detumescent effect was only achieved through arnica essence compresses, later also treatment with a farmer's cheese poultice. Overall improvement came only after systemic use of cortisone.


BD, Red.


  • Widrig R, et al. Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study. Rheumatology international 27.6 (2007): 585–591.
  • Merfort I. Arnika – Aktueller Stand hinsichtlich Wirksamkeit, Pharmakokinetik und Nebenwirkungen. Zeitschrift Phytotherapie 2010;31(4)